"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Louisiana Restores Amity with Grand Encampment of Knights Templar

Louisiana participant jewel, Masonic Knights Templar 31st Triennial Conclave, Chicago,1910.
Louisiana Jewel from 31st Triennial in 1910
Photo: Art de Hoyos
I was going to wait until Monday to post this when I could get hold of the actual letter, but I have received enough multiple reports today out of the South Central York Rite Conference in San Antonio that I am sufficiently convinced of its veracity. 

After a private meeting with Grand Master Jeffrey N. Nelson of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, MW Martin Reinschmidt, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana verbally announced that he has rescinded edict 2018-02 and restored recognition to the Grand Encampment. 

The Grand Commandery of Louisiana also met in special session and re-elected their Grand Commander, Keith Gates. 

Both Grand Masters stated together that they would work with each other during the new Triennium.

MW Reinschmidt posted the following announcement this morning on the Louisiana Brethren private Facebook group:

I will post the actual letter on Monday when I receive it.

For background on this story, see the following articles:

8/20/2018: GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Was It Something I Said?

Photo: David Icke. Yeah, I went there.
If you think the current national and international imbroglios over speech codes, "hate crime" speech laws, trigger warnings, and the awesome, unassailable, sheer naked power of Google and Facebook is overblown, you might reconsider that. 

At about 1 PM Wednesday, I logged on to post a new story here, only to discover that I had been locked out from my blog account by the nameless, faceless, multi-tentacled Leviathan known as Google. The blog was still online and could be viewed by everyone, but I was prevented from accessing the administrative features because my Google+ profile had been "suspended." And if I remained "suspended" for 90 days, the blog would subsequently be taken down entirely. 

Of course, Goggle's robotic speech police force never sent me an email or any other explanatory message to inform me of this. No warnings beforehand. No message telling just WHY I had been suspended. Just BOOM, no access. 

Here's how I found out when I tried to access the blog yesterday:

Had I offended someone? Had someone else posted something inappropriate in a comment? Had someone hacked my account? Was there malicious html code lurking in my site's formatting? Had someone slipped in a virus disguised as a photograph? Did anyone complain about something? Had some crazed anti-Mason or former high school girlfriend just lied to Google and claimed I had broken some rule, or was advocating revolution, or drowning kittens online? Do Freemasons just seem to be too 'conservative' for Google's staff?

I STILL don't know what happened. And I probably never will.

This blog has been up and running for over a dozen years now. To date, I've had 9.4 million views of my nearly 3,000 articles, and tens of thousands of comments have been posted here (in addition to the thousands on Facebook, where these articles also appear). Whatever you might think of my content, it's not what much of anyone anywhere would regard as controversial, adversarial, alienating, or even irksome, unless you really, really dislike or distrust Freemasons. I stick to Google's rules, since they own the platform and provide the Blogger feature free of charge and without advertising, and no one has ever accused me of violating their service terms or community standards. If I use a photo or excerpt an article from elsewhere, I always try to link back to the source or give credit. In the less than five cases over the years that someone has objected to my use of their proprietary material, I have always acceded to their wishes by removing it or giving proper attribution. (In a twist of irony, I'm sure notorious anti-Mason David Icke will be irked that I've cribbed his All Seeing Eye of Google image above. He's worried about us FREEMASONS?) 

Moreover, this site is HEAVILY moderated by me. You won't find profanity here, or ad hominem attacks, or even good old fashioned flame wars of yesteryear. It is one of the least contentious sites on the web simply because I run it like an autocrat (or a Worshipful Master), since I can read online fights anywhere and everywhere else I look these days. I just don't want it in here.

What was most troubling about Google shutting down my access yesterday was the total silence from their staff. Nobody contacted me before, during or after the shut down. And if you find yourself suspended by Google, I can tell you from this experience that there is NO WAY to get in touch with Google's support team or speech police. I was told to log in and post a question on their discussion board, yet I had to have a valid, NON-SUSPENDED Google+ profile to do it! So, I have no idea why I was padlocked out of my own site.

Photo: Calibre Computer Solutions

My best guess is that this was deliberate sabotage by someone who was bored, or who just wanted to vandalize a positive site about the Freemasons. Or it was a spammer who was livid that I keep deleting their comments inviting everyone to "Join the Illuminati!" I get dozens of those idiotic comments every day (and I suspect the mention of it here will result in another flood of spam). So I am left to infer that one of these miscreant basement dwellers possibly decided to falsely report this site for some sort of violation of Google's terms of service, which resulted in my access being denied for twelve hours until a human could actually investigate it.

My account was finally restored in the early hours this morning, so I hope this is the end of it. However, I am finally taking steps to get off of Google's platform, and I'm sure all of you web wizards out there who hate the antique way this site looks are heaving a sigh of relief. I'm slowly building the new blog site, so don't have a conniption when it goes live unexpectedly in the coming days or weeks. My goal is to preserve ALL of the prior posts here, along with their graphics AND comments.

I fully expect this to happen again as Google keeps trying to pull off the impracticable with its new censorship and quixotic war against "fake news." They announce daily developments as they attempt to make politicians, parents, professors, propagandists, protest groups, pornographers, social justice warriors, free speech advocates, free speech monitors, free speech deniers, nattering nabobs of negativity, and the Chinese all happy, simultaneously. Sadly, once they got into the content removal business, they crossed into a dangerous minefield, and they can't seem to navigate their way back out again. Once Google and Facebook decided they were NOT the phone company, and not a publisher either, they screwed themselves into being "responsible" for pulling off the impossible. And it's going to get worse before it gets better.

So if you have a blog or website hosted by Google, run, do not walk, to the nearest exits and get your account off of Google's platforms. Neither myself nor anyone posting on my blog said or did anything to deserve shutting down, albeit briefly. But that doesn't seem to matter anymore. This situation is going to keep happening with greater frequency from now forward, because all it takes is a vengeful or devious teenager with a keyboard or a smartphone to shut you and your site, your business, your communications with friends and relatives, down by squealing to the REAL All-Seeing Eye that is Google. And both Google and Facebook are now working hand in hand with governments all over the world to craft ever more intrusive laws, rules, regulations, codes, and punishments for speech, equating words with actual physical violence. How did we get here?

It's a shame that society can't seem to get along with itself anymore, and that social media has become nothing but anti-social media instead. Such a waste of a precious resource like freedom of speech and expression. Speech codes, safe spaces, hate speech laws — that is how the People un-learn Liberty. But then, that's what happens when society can't be civil to itself anymore, shares nothing in common anymore, and has no cohesive agreement on what decent behavior. Instead, we pass laws and enact regulations to do what common sense, decency and manners used to accomplish.

Brother Winston Churchill said a great many things throughout his lifetime (and even more is attributed to him than he actually said). But in 1938 in a radio address to the United States he said:
(Winston Churchill photo: Lodge of Hope)
"They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home--all the more powerful because forbidden--terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?... [A] state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world."

A healthy outside world. 

Heck, I'd be content if everyone just got along as well as Freemasons in a lodge...

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Netflix Offering 'Inside The Freemasons'

Netflix has started streaming availability of "Inside the Freemasons," the five-part documentary shown in England on Sky1 network during the United Grand Lodge of England's 300th anniversary celebration last year. The program was that rarest of television treatments of the fraternity - calm, even-handed, truthful - and features numerous Masons throughout England discussing their membership. It was created with the cooperation of the grand lodge.

That said, there's a certain wry irony that Netflix has labeled the series as "controversial." 


Because they say it is.

See it HERE. A subscription is required.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

D.C. Area Lodges Mark 225th Anniversary of Capitol Cornerstone

This evening, members of Congress and representatives from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C., and Masons from the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland marked the 225th anniversary of the laying of the U.S. Capitol cornerstone.

The original Capitol cornerstone ceremony, led by George Washington, took place in 1793.

This event was coordinated by a bi-partisan committee of congressmen, in addition to a Masonic committee composed of the Grand Lodge of D.C. and the three lodges that were present during the original ceremony (Federal Lodge No. 1 and Potomac Lodge No. 5 of DC; Alexandria-Washington, No. 22 of VA).

C-SPAN aired the ceremony live this evening, and it can be viewed online at the link below:


Saturday, September 15, 2018

MSA Issues Disaster Relief Appeal For North Carolina

Simon LaPlace at the MSA has issued the following message concerning the hurricane in North Carolina:

Most Worshipful Speed Hallman, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina has requested the Masonic Service Association of North America to issue a Disaster Relief Appeal. Hurricane Florence has produced massive flooding across the state. The Grand Lodge is aiding and assisting their Brothers, their families, and their communities in providing aid and assistance.

Further information will be made at www.msana.com/msappeals.asp as available. Please keep up to date at MSA's website as well as MSA's Facebook Page and Facebook Group. This link can also be added to websites to direct donations through MSA.

Particular information and photos can be sent to MSA at msaoffice@msana.com

Donations can be made online at www.msana.com.

Please forward any donations you feel appropriate to help in this stricken jurisdiction to MSA. Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send to:

3905 National Drive
STE 280
Burtonsville, MD 20866 

When remitting by check, please clearly mark that you wish the funds to go to the North Carolina Disaster Appeal.

All administrative expenses, bank charges, bookkeeping, and cost of acknowledgment letters is absorbed by MSA in its operating budget. Your entire donation will be sent to the affected jurisdiction. That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it will continue.

MSA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Click image to enlarge.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Museum Inaugurates Virtual Reality Walking Tours of Ancient Jerusalem

Nearly twenty years ago when I first became a Mason, the hot topic at the time was how newly emerging computer graphics might soon be used to illustrate our lectures. It would be the next logical step after the old tracing boards, magic lanterns with their glass slides, Kodak Carousel slide projectors, and Power Point presentations. We often chatted about the possibilities of VR Middle Chamber lectures and presentations of Solomon's Temple.

Jump ahead two decades, and the technology has finally caught up with the dream.

Israel's Tower of David in Jerusalem is home to a unique museum that vividly illustrates the long history of that legendary city using modern technology. Opened in 1989, the Tower of David Museum presents the main events of the city’s history in chronological sequence, beginning with the first evidence of the existence of a city in the Second Millennium BC, and ending with modern Jerusalem becoming the capital of the State of Israel. It is located in the medieval guardrooms of Jerusalem’s Ottoman-era citadel and stands at the entrance to the Old City. 

Of special interest to Freemasons is their exhibit of the First Temple Period, beginning in 1006 BC. It depicts the city’s designation as capital by King David, its prosperity under the rule of King Solomon, and its establishment as an administrative and religious center. Central is the construction of the Temple on Mount Moriah that plays such an important part of Masonic ritual and symbolism.

This month the Tower of David Museum will launch a new and unique virtual reality guided tour of the Old City that steps outside of the confines of its building and actually out into the city's streets. While the new VR tour depicts Jerusalem in the later Second Temple period (built by Zerubbabel in 516 BC) of King Herod, it promises to be a game changer in the realm of bringing ancient archeological sites to life for visitors.

From the Times of Israel today, "Virtual reality tour brings ancient Jerusalem to life":
The virtual reality guide, “Step into History,” offers visitors a chance to “walk in the streets of Jerusalem and enjoy the present and take a look back to the past,” said Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber.

Working with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Lithodomos VR created 360-degree simulations of how Jerusalem’s citadel, palaces, streets and ancient Jewish Temple are believed to have appeared during its heyday under King Herod in the first century BCE and during the life of Jesus.
Herod, a Roman vassal who ruled Judaea from 37-4 BCE, invested heavily in large construction projects across his realm, including a major expansion of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the fortress and palace where the Tower of David stands today. His monuments, including the mountaintop fortress at Masada and the port city of Caesarea, are among the most visited sites in Israel.
“Especially with Jerusalem, I think the biggest challenge was getting it right,” said Simon Young, founder of Lithodomos VR, an Australian startup. “There’s a lot of different opinions about how Jerusalem looked in the ancient world… Of course, we want to do justice to Jerusalem and to make it as accurate as possible.”
Lithodomos VR’s team of archaeologists and artists has produced similar projects in London, Rome, Athens and other cities.
The Tower of David Museum also houses an innovation lab in a chamber at the top of a Herodian-era keep that once served as the chambers of Jerusalem’s Ottoman governor. The lab, launched in October 2017, hosts startups such as Lithodomos VR that are developing technologies to enhance visitor experience, with a particular emphasis on virtual and enhanced reality. The site also holds an elaborate light show that projects moving images in intricate detail on the ancient walls of the Old City.
Accompanied by a guide, visitors will be able explore nine vantage points in the city, starting at the citadel — an Ottoman-era fortress built atop remnants of several earlier bastions — then meandering through the Old City’s Jewish Quarter down toward the remains of the Second Jewish Temple. In order to keep from crashing into modern Jerusalem, visitors carry the goggles between sites, then put them on once they are stationary.
At each point, a narrator explains the historical significance of the structures they can see in the goggles: the columned marketplace of the Cardo, the heart of the ancient city; the soaring towers of Herod’s citadel; the opulent pools of his pleasure palace; and the Temple. The VR tour around the Old City takes approximately two hours, the museum said.
The tour is confined to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. The Old City lies in East Jerusalem — an area captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and claimed by the Palestinians as their future capital. Israel rejects any division of the Old City — home to Jerusalem’s most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites.

GL Florida Restores Amity with Cuba — Again!

Here they go again.

Florida's Grand Master John E. Karroum has announced the reinstatement of fraternal relations between the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM and the Gran Logia de Cuba... ONE MORE TIME.

If this sounds like a song you've heard before, you're not wrong. On December 10, 2016, the Grand Lodge of Florida restored fraternal relations with Cuba for the first time in 56 years. The Gran Logia de Cuba was formed in 1951 from two previously separated ones, eight years before the Castro revolution, and it has remained in operation and regular in practice for all those years. The U.S. government severed diplomatic relations with the Communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro in 1961, and American grand lodges quickly followed suit. A large number of Florida Freemasons are either from Cuba originally or descended from Cuban immigrants, so the restoration of recognition in late 2016 was warmly welcomed. But despite the long-sought after renewal of amity, all was still not well.

An ongoing controversy stemmed from lodges operated within Florida made up of exiled Cuban Masons who are not affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM. Florida's various grand masters regarded this as an invasion of their territory by Cuba, and the argument has gone on for some time. (Here is a link to a letter regarding the matter from back in 2014.) The Grand Lodge of Florida largely looked the other way at the operation of the exile lodges over the years with an understanding that they would cease once relations between the island nation and the U.S. were normalized and the two Grand Lodges reconciled. That apparently did not happen, at least as quickly as the former GM of Florida wanted it to in early 2017.

So, in February of 2017 Florida's then-Grand Master, MW Stanley Hudson again withdrew recognition from the GL de Cuba for their failure to "renounce the clandestine lodges operating" in Florida's jurisdiction. The recognition had lasted less than three months.  

Meanwhile, an increasing number of U.S. grand lodges have been again recognizing the GL de Cuba ever since the United States government began re-engaging with Cuba in late 2014.

This new letter from GM Karroum, dated August 29, 2018 (see below) explains that he was authorized by Florida's Grand Lodge to restore relations with Cuba, and that he has determined that the GL de Cuba has "completed the steps agreed upon and met the requirements set forth [on December 10, 2016]."

Congratulations to all parties involved in resolving this issue.

Click image to enlarge.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Denver Airport Embraces Its Conspiracy Reputation

It seems that the infamous Denver Airport has at long last decided to give in and accept its longstanding legendary reputation as Conspiracy Central (See The Spooky Denver Airport HERE). 

Face it: if you already have the rep of being home to subterranean political prisoner tunnels, Nazi runways, Illuminati headquarters, Masonic overlords, a UFO base, ancient alien messages in plain sight, and a satanic horse out front, what else can you do?

The notorious airport is currently undergoing some major construction, so they have erected several large signs to alert passengers. But instead of the traditional "pardon our dust" messages that usually adorn such projects, they've gone a little more creative. 

And I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that Colorado legalized marijuana not long ago...

"Under Construction? Or underground tunnels?"

"Are we creating the world's greatest airport? Or preparing for the end of the world?"
"Building the Illuminati headquarters? Remodeling the Lizard People's Lair?"

"What's happening behind this wall? Gargoyle breeding grounds? A top secret Freemason meeting?"

Now, if the Grand Lodge of Colorado doesn't hop on this and create their own airport billboard campaign in a similar vein I'll be very disappointed in them.

I figured this was appropriate out of the Mile High City today just as Alice, Wiley and I drive around Denver and turn back eastward for home. (We're currently at 9,600 feet, but who's counting?)

By the way, I see that on AMC's Lodge 49 that the lodge's Supreme Leader lives in an Airstream trailer. 

Tell me that the producers don't read this blog...

(H/T to Nathan Brindle. Photos from Facebook courtesy John Trulli and William Dantzler)

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Lousiana v. Templars: Grand Commander of LA Responds

Since the story about the imbroglio between the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA was first reported here, I've been concerned that this site would become some ongoing, tit-for-tat, public battleground for the two sides. Consequently, I delayed posting this message in an effort to let some of the heat cool between the two sides. 

Below is a letter circulated last week by Keith Gates, Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Louisiana that is his response to MEPGM Duane L. Vaught's letter posted on August 25th (see Immediate MEPGM of Grand Encampment Responds To Louisiana Edict). If you have been following this argument elsewhere online, you've undoubtedly read the message below already, such as the Louisiana Grand Commandery's Facebook page. It's been widely circulated. However, I am posting it here so that all of the pertinent documents can be found on this site.

Hopefully, this will be the last go round until the Grand Master of Louisiana and the Grand Encampment patch up their differences and recognition is restored. 

Click images to enlarge.


8/20/2018: GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars

8/25/2018: Immediate MEPGM of Grand Encampment Responds To Louisiana Edict

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Immediate MEPGM of Grand Encampment Responds To Louisiana Edict

On Monday of this week I reported that MW Martin J. Reinschmidt, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana F&AM, had issued an Edict withdrawing recognition of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States. (See GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars).

To my knowledge, as of 5PM on Saturday the Edict remains in force. I will update if that situation changes.

I have just received the following response and documents from MEPGM Duane L. Vaught, now the immediate Most Eminent Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, regarding the situation with Louisiana.

His message and all documents are presented below in their entirety, per his permission:

Brothers, Sir Knights and others:

Freemasonry offers many wonderful experiences to the loyal mason. On Monday of our Grand Encampment Triennial we were off to a good start. During the public session on that morning we recognized guests from around the world. A senior Pediatric Ophthalmic surgeon and official of the American Association of Ophthalmology literally cried tears of joy over our agreement to provide two million dollars of support to a project to help save the sight of children, we were on track to recognize Prince Hall Templary and provide a fun and meaningful experience for our members.

I was greatly distressed therefore to learn later that same day of this blog presenting a false impression regarding our relationship with the Grand lodge of Louisiana. I certainly understand the legitimate interest by our members to become aware of the actions of the Grand Master of Louisiana. I regret that the commentary failed to make any effort to contact us or to obtain complete information about the nature of these unfortunate circumstances. It appears that Mr. Hodapp has been provided some incomplete information that he regretfully used for the basis of his analysis rather than simply presenting the Grand Master’s edict which would have been unquestionably reasonable.

We were informed of the expulsion of Mr. du Treil. We are required to suspend his membership and will do so. The many accusations that we do not recognize the Grand Lodge expulsion are wholly false. We do not for a moment question their actions.

Every action against a member must comply with some process. Failure to do so is not simply unfair but illegal under the laws of every state. In some cases the process is to issue an order. I am told that the process in Louisiana Grand Lodge was a vote of the members. If so it would have been illegal for them to do so except by this process. Our process is through a trial in Mr. du Treil’s local Commandery. It is not an order by me, which would have been illegal. It is not by simply changing the membership records to show expulsion. It is not a vote of the members of the Grand Encampment. It is not the waiving of a wand or the casting of the spell expecto patronum. It is a trial which much like suspension for nonpayment of dues requires charges (notice) and approximately a month later a 2 minute trial with an automatic guilty verdict unless one can prove that the expulsion did not occur. Only evidence that the expulsion does not exist would be a valid defense. Claims that an expulsion should not exist is not a valid defense.

This process should have been commenced immediately by the Knights Templar of Louisiana. If it had the suspension would have already occurred. The Grand Commander should have seen that the trial occurred and he has repeatedly informed me that he knows of this requirement. Many interesting questions surround the actions of Grand Commander Gates since he is also an attorney for the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and represented the Grand Lodge when they lost a court hearing resulting in a court order to enjoin or bar the Grand Lodge from suspending Mr. du Treil.

It is the Grand Commander of Louisiana, and not me that has failed to comply with the duties of his office and he has been removed from office for his conduct in this matter. The new Acting Grand Commander, former Deputy Grand Commander, has been ordered by me to repair the deficiencies of his predecessor by seeing to it that charges are promptly filed in Louisiana over the Masonic membership matter so that trial may proceed.

We have been accused of allowing a suspended mason to attend a tiled Templar meeting. We are innocent. First, although he is expelled from Freemasonry, he is not suspended from Templary yet. Second, Mr. du Treil did not sit in a tiled Templar meeting this week and to my knowledge not since his expulsion.

The Grand Master of Louisiana sent me a letter by internet on August 15 (first seen by me during the Knight Templar Eye Foundation Trustees meeting the next day) That “If you do not accept my request, and allow Frank Du Treil Jr. to be present at the formal business conclaves during your Triennial Conclave ...” The letter also stated “I am instructing all Knights Templar who hold masonic membership in a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana not to be present at any formal and tyled conclave of Knights Templar with Frank N Du Treil Jr.”

Simply put, The Grand Master of Louisiana did not want Frank du Treil to attend a tiled conclave and he did not do so. The Edict was issued on the basis of the false claim that he did.

I have here provided a copy of the August 15 letter from the Grand Master of Louisiana, the letter to the Grand Master of Louisiana relative to his edict which was based on incorrect information, and the order of removal of Grand Commander Gates from office for failure to fulfill the duties of his office. I would beg an interested person to read the documents himself as well as the previously posted Edict. A wise person should judge for himself based on all the facts. “Clearly seen as an affront”, “which is certainly his right” and “pretty cut and dried decision” are easy opinions to throw out when a question is simplified by the omission of most of the data.

In summary

  1. Mr. Frank du Treil is an expelled mason.
  2. He is not yet suspended by Templary because of the failure to fulfil the duties of his office by a Grand Commander who is an attorney for the Grand Lodge. That Grand Commander has been removed from office.
  3. The matter is subject to litigation between the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and several others which is none of our business as Templars
  4. The Grand Master of Louisiana’s edict punishes the members of his state and all of Freemasonry for a violation that did not occur.
But read the documents and see for yourself. You shouldn’t believe everything you see on the internet.


Edict (for Reference)

Text of message to Chris Hodapp

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Grand Encampment Recognizes Prince Hall Templars

The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA meeting at their 67th Triennial Conclave in Indianapolis this week has elected Sir Knight Jeffrey N. Nelson of Bismarck, North Dakota (photo) as Most Eminent Grand Master for 2018-2021.

Other officers elected were:

  • SK Michael Burke Johnson of Crowheart, WY has been elected as R.E. Deputy Grand Master 
  • David Joseph Kussman of Anaheim, CA, R.E. Grand Generalissimo 
  • SK Jeffrey A. Bolstad. Lewistown, MT, R.E. Grand Captain General 
  • SK Bobby Blackman Simmons, Georgia, R.E. Grand Treasurer 
  • SK Lawrence E. Tucker, Bellaire, TX , R.E. Grand Recorder 
  • Reverend and SK Arthur F. Hebbeler, III, Catonsville, MD, R.E. Grand Prelate.

    According to reports from Sir Knights attending the Triennial this week, the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA has, by acclamation, officially recognized the Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America. I have not seen the official wording of this decision yet, so I don't know of any details at the moment.

    Monday, August 20, 2018

    GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars

    MW Martin J. Reinschmidt, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana F&AM, has just issued Edict No. 2018-02, withdrawing recognition of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States. As of now, no Louisiana Freemason may currently sit in any Templar conclaves, meetings or assemblies in or outside of that state that bear allegiance to the Grand Encampment.

    The news comes on the opening day of the 67th Templar Triennial Conclave in Indianapolis today.
    Frank N. DuTreil, Jr.

    At the annual communication of Louisiana earlier this year, their Grand Lodge voted to expel Past Grand Master 2012-13 Frank N. DuTreil, Jr. (photo) from the fraternity. (He had been previously suspended in June 2017, according to their 2017 Annual Proceedings, which is easily available online. The suspension was overturned in July 2017 by vote of the GL, and DuTreil was subsequently reprimanded.) However, according to reports out of Louisiana over the weekend, Knights Templar Grand Master, Most Eminent Duane L. Vaught and the Grand Encampment allegedly did not honor that expulsion, and permitted DuTreil to remain, not only a Sir Knight, but to continue serving as the Department Commander for the South Central Region.

    DuTreil was reportedly permitted to attend the Triennial's public events today and was introduced during the opening this morning. This was clearly seen as an affront by the Grand Master of Louisiana.

    Duane L.Vaught,
    Grand Master Knights Templar
    Longstanding practice in the regular, recognized Masonic world is that an expulsion from a Mason's home jurisdiction is to be honored by the appendant bodies, and the member be likewise expelled from all Masonic groups. 

    A similar impasse occurred many years ago in Arkansas when the Shrine failed to honor an Arkansas Mason's expulsion in that jurisdiction. The result of that action was that the Shrine to this day is no longer affiliated with or recognized by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, and Masons in that state are not permitted to be Shriners. Hopefully, this current imbroglio with Louisiana and the Knights Templar won't become that  drastic.

    In MW Reinschmidt's Edict, he quotes Section 202 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment:
    "When a Templar has been suspended or expelled from his Lodge or Chapter or Council where required, for any reason, he shall be suspended or expelled, as the case may be, from his Commandery. (1988, pp.208-09)
    The Triennial continues in Indianapolis this week, and election results of new officers will be announced soon. Rather than wait a few days for the election of a new Grand Master of Templars, the GM of Louisiana chose to take the nuclear option, which is certainly his right. Appendant bodies are subordinate to the grand lodge within a jurisdiction, so this was a pretty cut and dried decision on his part.

    The Edict does carefully point out that Louisiana Commanderies CAN continue to operate, as long as they are not holden to the Grand Encampment. This is the result of the fact that Louisiana's first Knights Templar commanderies did not receive their original charters from the Grand Encampment of the USA, but from pre-GEKT New York sources. But I will leave that explanation to others far better versed in this minutiae than myself. (Besides, Louisiana Freemasonry ALWAYS turns into an argument when their origins are discussed...)

    Edict (click images to enlarge)
    Excerpts, Constitution of Grand Encampment (click to enlarge)

    By the way, in other news, Pete Normand reminded me that today, August 20th is the Feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), patron of the Knights Templar.

    UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2018, 5:15PM:

    I spoke by phone this afternoon with Most Eminent Grand Master Duane L. Vaught of the Grand Encampment. I have offered to post any statement or rebuttal that he, the GEKT, its grand officers, or its legal counsel wish to issue, in full and without any opinion or commentary on my part. With the Triennial continuing to dominate their attention this week - along with my own erratic posting schedule while on the road this month - that may not be immediate. But if they choose to do so, I will post it on this blog in as timely a manner as I am able.

    UPDATE AUGUST 25, 2018 6:30PM:

    I have just posted MEPGM Duane Vaught's response to this blog entry, along with supporting documents by him. 

    UPDATE AUGUST 27, 2018:

    Colorado Knight Templar (and law student) Ben Williams has posted an extremely detailed delineation on the Rocky Mountain Mason blogsite of the incidents and actions leading up to DuTreil's original suspension and ultimate expulsion from the Grand Lodge of Louisiana.Williams is arguing that DuTreil could NOT YET be expelled from the GEKT because due process hadn't been followed.

    See: Why the Grand Lodge of Louisiana Should Reinstate Recognition of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar

    Thursday, August 16, 2018

    Alas, My Brethren! Death of Three Brothers

    Alice, Wiley and I are continuing our trip across the western United States, and we've stopped for a bit in Southern California to visit my family before turning back eastward. But the last ten days have brought news of three unexpected deaths which have affected me deeply, and I wanted to take the opportunity to mark the passing of these three noteworthy brethren — Donald C. Seeley, T. Edward Page, and John Slifko. 

    Ernest Hemingway wrote, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." Each of these three brethren lived very different lives, achieved very different milestones, affected very different people, but they 'lived respected and die regretted'. They leave this world better than they found it, but it is nonetheless an emptier place without them today.

    WB Donald C. Seeley

    On August 2nd, my longtime friend Worshipful Brother Donald Crosby Seeley of Indianapolis passed away at the age of 79 of natural causes. Don was one of a tiny handful of dedicated brethren who kept my mother lodge, Broad Ripple Lodge No. 643 from closing its doors during its troubled years of 1998-2001. He was our master ritualist for such a very long time. Scores of our members have Don to thank for conferring their degrees over the years, for mentoring so many of us, and for holding us all to the highest of standards. Don was that rare ritualist who truly understood the words he delivered and the messages they imparted, and his delivery was always precise and genuine.

    For many of us from the north side of Indianapolis, Don will always be King Solomon.

    A bit of trivia for the handful of us who fondly remember the days of pioneering Indianapolis radio station WNAP (the Wrath of the Buzzard!") with its notorious raft race. Don was the station's sales manager for many of those great years, and he also initiated our late Brother "Big John" Gillis into Broad Ripple in the 1990s.

    Don's memorial service was held at our lodge last Friday, and his cremains are to be interred later this month in Michigan City, where he was born in 1939. I shall miss him, but I will always be able to close my eyes and hear his own sonorous delivery reflected back in the voices of countless of my lodge brethren in the coming years. That is a noble legacy he leaves behind which few others can ever claim.

    WB T. Edward 'Tracy' Page

    Yesterday, Wednesday August 15th, Worshipful Brother T. Edward 'Tracy' Page went to the door of his home to meet a longtime family friend and former client, and was apparently shot and killed by the 83 year old man. Police have arrested his attacker, but no one has yet revealed any motive in the senseless killing. Tracy was an attorney in Hobart, Indiana, and was well known in the community. This tragedy has shocked everyone in the region, and devastated the entire Indiana Masonic family. (Updated information and details about the murder have been reported on Friday HERE.)

    Tracy served both as an attorney and a part-time judge in Lake County, Indiana (he was known for wearing a red robe in court, in imitation of English judges). He was just days away from retirement this month, and he had intended to teach law in his retirement years. He was deeply respected and extremely well-liked, which makes this news so inexplicable.

    He was a kind and generous gentleman and Mason. Tracy was currently serving this year as the Worshipful Master of Hobart's M. L. McClelland Lodge No. 357 and he was an enthusiastic Scottish Rite Mason and Sir Knight in Valparaiso Commandery of Knights Templar. He was also the real-life brother of famed sportscaster and Mason, Paul Page of Indianapolis. 

    Visitation for Tracy will be 
    Friday, August 24th at the Geisen Funeral Home 606 E 113th Ave, Crown Point, IN, from 3 to 8PM. (219) 663-2500. 

    A Masonic funeral will be held at 10AM on Saturday, August 25th at McCelland Lodge in Hobart Indiana, and services will conclude there. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to The Scottish Rite Dyslexic Centers or The Shriner’s Children Hospitals.

    John Slifko, PhD

    Finally, I was just forwarded a message about the death today of John Slifko after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. When I first joined the fraternity in the late 1990s, John's name frequently came up throughout the online Masonic community, especially in the esoteric realm. He straddled both the regular and irregular Masonic—as well as the academic—worlds, and at about that time, he and professor Margaret Jacob were organizing the Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society and Freemasonry at UCLA. 

    John's Masonic interests ran more in the direction of French-derived Freemasonry, and he was briefly associated with the ill-fated Grand Orient of the United States. But because he was so widely involved in the fraternity's esoteric aspects rather than personal controversies or political considerations, he was welcomed a voice of reason and civility amidst the turmoil of that experiment. John's interest was always in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge, wherever it led, regardless of whose brand name was on the letterhead. Because of his winning personality, sharp intellect, and wide interests, he made lifelong friendships around the globe in nearly every avenue of Masonic philosophy and obediences. He was truly unique in the Masonic world, and we need many more like him.

    John and I corresponded off and on over the last 20 years, and we spoke by phone on several occasions. His illness was diagnosed in 2013, and worse, his wife Belinda was also diagnosed with her own cancer that very same year. John's was pernicious, and he attempted to fight it with every resource available. Sadly, he lost that battle today.

    Rather than attempt to patch together his many achievements over the years, I will quote from his longtime friend Eogan Ballard's  The Hedge Mason blog entry today where I read the news of his passing:
    Those who knew John knew he was no stranger to the world of Freemasonry. Those who did not know the man or his character may not have not realized that he frequently played a role behind the scenes to avoid controversy and to assure positive outcomes in any venture to which his name was attached. The path he trod was always guided by the highest ethics.

    In his career he brushed shoulders and maintained relationships with some significant figures in American Cultural life. He maintained a communication with and interviewed Burl Ives, and was the personal secretary to Manly P. Hall for some time. He maintained close ties with people and organizations involved with Freemasonry and esoteric studies in Europe, North America, and Latin America.

    John Slifko was an expert in urban planning and Freemasonry. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Geography. In 1989, John Slifko received his Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and more recently received a Doctorate in Geography from the same institution. He served with Councilwoman Ruth Galanter from 1988 to 1989 as a Planning Deputy for Los Angeles International Airport. John also worked as a Legislative Aide and a Field Representative in Congress for eight years.

    As Founder and Co-Director of the Roosevelt Center for the study of Civil Society and Freemasonry, John Slifko raised funds to support scholars and gave lectures, and tirelessly promoted the academic study of the fraternal organization of Freemasonry. He was a member of the Association of American Geographers, the American Historical Association, The John Dewey Society, and the Academic Society for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism. John Slifko volunteered for The Midnight Mission, which takes the homeless off of Skid Row and rehabilitates them into self-sufficient members of society. He contributed to the UCLA Foundation’s endowment, supporting the educational endeavors of the university. John Slifko was an active stock trader from 2000 to 2006, investing in green technologies.
    In his spare time, he pursued the study of geographical mapping and exploration, as well as archeaoastronomy, the study of how past cultures understood the sky. He also participated in Healthy City, a California information portal that helps residents connect to health and social services and community data.

    He was active in the quest to bring the Modern or French Rite to North America in recent years and instrumental in the work to bring about the foundation of the Higher Orders of Wisdom in North America and the Caribbean. It was in fact at his prompting that I chose to create the Hedge Mason Blog. He was active in the foundation of and the promotion of Project Awe, (Aesthetics of Western Esotericism) - Where Art meets Magic...

    I will update this message with funeral service information when I receive it. John's family urges those who wish to do something in his memory to make donations to The Hirsberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

    My heart goes out to all of the family and friends of these three outstanding brethren, and all I can offer in return for their contributions to my Masonic life are my fervent prayers and deepest condolences.

    Their columns have been broken, and their Brethren mourn.

    Requiescat in pace.